World Diabetes Day 2019: The Family of Diabetics
Make no mistake: diabetes doesn't just affect your family member.
Every #WorldDiabetesDay, I blog about #diabetes, as one does. Generally speaking, I make some mention of the kid—really, now a manchild of nearly 16 years—who I affectionately dub as my "diabetes warrior buddy." This young man so impresses me that if one were to ask who I look up to, I'd mention his name. He's never let this autoimmune condition—in his case, he has Type 1 diabetes—slow him down, not even once, and he's done more in his 15-and-three-quarters years on the planet than many have done in their lifetimes. In spite of having to strictly monitor his blood sugar levels, prick his fingers several times a day, live with an insulin pump and monitor in his arm, and occasionally wake up disoriented and confused because his blood sugar levels are too low, he still approaches everything with his typical broad smile and positive attitude.
I don't know how he does it some days, and I'm a healthy-ish 40-something-year-old woman.
However, this year's theme for World Diabetes Day revolves around diabetes and the family, and let me tell you something, the family of a diabetic is something to be admired as well.
For instance, my diabetes warrior buddy's mom is one of the fiercest warriors I know. She has never once stopped my buddy from trying new things or from really exploring his full capabilities, though I'm sure there are moments she's watched him and gritted her teeth in a silent prayer. She has always been on the sidelines, cheering him on, keeping him balanced, and standing by with a juice box or Powerade whenever the need arises. When he got upset about changes to the disability tax credit, which helps offset some of the costs associated with diabetes as I believe, she asked what he wanted to do about it. He wrote a letter with some support from his grandfather, and she asked me who she should send it to. Of course, I sent it to every voice I could think of and then some, but she wanted to help him achieve his goals, as every mother does.
When I learned that there were nights that my buddy's blood sugars were so low that he would wake up disoriented, I could only imagine how distressing that would be for my friend. As moms, we want nothing more than to keep our children safe and healthy, and when your child is having a moment where they aren't even truly sure where they are, that has to be devastating.
I have no idea as to the extent of the expenses for diabetes care and maintenance, but I know it's quite a lot, and my friend and her family—like so many others living with diabetes—figure it out like champions. I don't know how they figure it out, but they do, and I admire that tenacity of spirit. Living with diabetes is a family affair, ranging from her husband to her own parents coming and ensuring my warrior buddy is well supported as he continues to learn and adapt to a world with diabetes. I know colleagues that are growing and adapting as well, and their strength is an inspiration.
I can only imagine the stress that a family with a diabetic goes through, whether that's emotional, physical or financial stress. I full well realize that it could be all of the above at any given moment, as it is with any family, but in the case of my friend and my warrior buddy, they have shown me time and again that while my warrior buddy lives with diabetes, they are not prisoners of the disease.
To each and every family living with diabetes in their lives, I realize that what you're doing is living your lives the best way you know how, which is pretty much what everyone does. Know that your genuine support of one another is inspiring and that when a cure for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is found, we will celebrate with you.